Congressman Bill Keating
By Ray O'Hanlon
The Biden administration is being urged to appoint a U.S. Envoy to the North peace and political process by a bipartisan group in the United States House of Representatives.
The House members, 25 in total, urge such an appointment in a letter to the president following a recent House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing that resulted in a strong endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber is chaired by Massachusetts Democrat Bill Keating.
According to a release from his office, Chairman Keating led a bipartisan letter to President Biden calling for the appointment of a Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.
The letter, according to release from Keating's office, specifies that that the United States should increase funding for the International Fund for Ireland and the Special Envoy should have a mandate to ensure women are included in every stage of the peace building process.
"Twenty-five Members of Congress joined this effort, including members of the Massachusetts delegation, Friends of Ireland Caucus, and House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a strong showing of American support for peace and stability in Northern Ireland."
Continued the release: "The letter follows recommendations that came out of the recent hearing Chairman Keating held in his Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber.
"That hearing reaffirming the Good Friday Agreement and highlighted the underlying causes of recent violence and longstanding tensions in the region.
"The hearing was joined by experts witnesses, including: Monica McWilliams, a founding member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) who served as delegate during negotiations, is a signatory to the Good Friday Agreement, and served in the Northern Ireland Assembly; Jane Morrice, also a founder of NIWC who rose to serve as Deputy Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly; and Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, former United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland."
In the appeal to President Biden, the lawmakers state in part: “We ask that you demonstrate America’s commitment to peace through diplomacy by appointing a President’s Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. This appointment would confirm our commitment to our transatlantic partners and our stanch support for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law (and) U.S. efforts that provide critical support for initiatives to further integrated education and on other issues vital to cross-community reconciliation must continue to receive our support, such as our contributions to the International Fund for Ireland.”
The release states that the letter underscores that peace building is a continuous process.
"As Chairman Keating said in his opening statement at the May 5th hearing: 'peace in Europe is not something to be taken for granted. It is a status of life that we must constantly work towards and build upon.'"
The letter is signed by Chairman Keating. The additional signatories are: Brian Fitzpatrick, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber; Richard E. Neal, Co-Chair, Congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus; Juan Vargas; Gerald E. Connolly; James P. McGovern; David N. Cicilline; Dina Titus; John Katko; Jake Auchincloss; Jim Costa; Abigail D. Spanberger; Vicente Gonzalez; Ted Deutch; Bill Pascrell, Jr.; Mike Doyle Brendan F. Boyle; Stephen F. Lynch; Marcy Kaptur; Brian Higgins; Susan Wild; Mary Gay Scanlon; Albio Sires; Conor Lamb and Daniel T. Kildee.